Bahrain: How the Regime Destroyed Aspirations of Thousands of Top Students since 2006 so Far

2017-07-01 - 5:36 ص

Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): The most comprehensive understanding of the reality of education in Bahrain requires being placed in the context of what was revealed by the former strategic planning adviser at the Royal Court, Salah al-Bandar, about "the systematic work on excluding the Shiite community in the country," specifically in the context of what was stated with regards to education in a secret conception included in the report, i.e. "to improve the general condition of the Sunni community in the Kingdom of Bahrain." The report reveals that the regime, which is a pioneer in the practice of discriminating between its citizens based on their religious affiliation, finds fault in their excellence and achievement of "the finest scholarships", considering them to be challenging them, which requires to be conspired against, according to the report.

This report is aimed at clarifying the fact that education issues are greater than the mere outcomes of Ministry's corruption, whose chair has been taken by Majed Al-Nuaimi since the launch of the so-called reform project in 2002, and, as the King's adviser puts it, education issues rather have another aspect aimed at "changing the demographic structure of Bahrain."

It is no less hideous than the systematic naturalization scheme, from which thousands of students who strive to fulfill their aspirations have suffered. These students eventually fall in the pit of unemployment or forced labor at the mercy of the private sector that only offers them minimum wage and even less.
The information should be announced over and over again, so that no generation in this island would miss the fact that they will suffer immensely for a simple right guaranteed by international human rights legislations, and that as a result they have to cling with all their might to education no matter how narrow their options may be or else their future will be destroyed.

2006: University of Bahrain: Bachelor's degrees are not for everyone

In the summer of 2006, months after the year when Al-Bandar unveiled his surprise, the University of Bahrain, through a black hole called the Faculty of Applied Sciences, destroyed the hopes of 3,000 students- out of a total of 4,376 who graduated from high school that year- of attaining a bachelor's degree.

They played with their fates as Khaled Al-Ruwaihi, who was in charge of the duties of the dean at the time considered that the high school graduates were asking too much by wanting to attend the university and attain a bachelor's degree. He even gave unrealistic statements in the newspapers, perhaps written by the advisor Kamal Al-Dheeb, about the alleged role of the Faculty of Applied Sciences in bridging the gap between the University's outputs and the demands of the market, and their interaction with the rapid economic changes as well as their harmony with the "King's reform project and the Crown Prince project to reform the labor market and the outputs of education.
Just as he deemed their desire to obtain a bachelor's degree excessive, he also deemed it excessive that 33% of them achieved grade rates above 90%, which he considered to be an inflation in the level of high school results which he claimed was revealed by the aptitude test.

This test, which has been organized since its adoption as a mandatory examination for admission to the University of Bahrain to date by a Saudi institution, the National Center for Measurement, was the mechanism that led to closing the doors of the University in the face of thousands of students, including graduates with the highest rates, as the high school cumulative (grade) average that the student builds throughout three years of strenuous high school education was replaced by a single test result that cannot be challenged.

This system reduced the percentage of top high school graduates with 90% grade averages or more that year from 33% to only 2%. This testing system also affected graduates with lower averages, replacing their cumulative three-year averages with this test result to justify depriving them from studying at the university.
The admission and registration dean Isa Al-Khayyat did not hide the fact that the adoption of the Saudi measurement exam as mandatory testing for admission to the University of Bahrain aims at addressing the "urgent demand of high school graduates to enroll in university education."

2010: Distance Education- Banned!

A bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement for employment in ministries and the private sector. Ministerial laws give the holder of this certificate preference in employment and wages and compensation. Therefore, after high school graduates are deprived of attending the national university, and is left with the option of lesser private commercial universities, these graduates find that the best solution is to resort to distance education.

However, in 2010, the ministry cut off another avenue of access to a bachelor's degree after issuing a ministerial decree stipulating that it would not recognize degrees earned through virtually all forms of distance education-programs run by institutions outside the country as of January 2010, noting that it would look into cases of those registered before this date and are still in enrolled.

The ministry did not approve of the certificates of some students, who had graduated from such universities, although it had clearly stated that it would approve students' certificates if they had participated in open education before the resolution. Some of them spoke to the media. There were fifty who graduated from El-Nilein University in 2009 and twenty others who graduated from the Indian Madras University, let alone Cairo University graduates in 2007.

However, their complaints and most of their attempts, which reached the extent of suing the Minister of Education, did not work. As the Ministry shut the door to education by introducing the Faculty of Applied Education and aptitude testing, it once again blocked this door by its decision to crush the ambitions of many students whose enrolment coincided with the change in the Ministry's mood towards one of the most effective types of continuing education, which is adopted by many developed countries.

2012: More Obstacles

As for those who managed to survive these arbitrary decisions, and deserved by their top grades scholarships from the Ministry of Education, faced the new requirement of undergoing an interview, which deducts 400% of a graduate's cumulative average, subjecting his eligibility to receive the scholarship and his university major preference to depend on the mood of the ministry's staff who decide the fate of the students after interviews that discuss the students' political orientation.

Hence, the top graduates cannot receive the scholarship unless they pass the interview. This interview  constitutes 40% of the students' passing average, so the students enter the interview with only a 60% chance of passing. During this interview, the student is asked useless questions that don't have to do with anything, and whose major purpose is to exclude top Shiite graduates in a crude and insolent fashion, depriving them of their rights as top students.

Former Minister of Education Ali Fakhro said that the system deprived dozens of Shiite top graduates from scholarships. A study conducted by the Al-Wefaq Society in 2015 said that 34% of top students were denied scholarships because of this system, which Bahrain Transparency Society, for its part, said practices a discriminative policy.

As for the pro-government media, they sang the praises of Al-Bandar, whose measures began to be implemented blatantly.

2013: Private Institution Scholarships

The Cabinet issued its decision the following year to prevent private parties from offering scholarships without the ministry's approval, arguing that they need to guarantee recognition of the qualifications that students will receive abroad after graduating and avoid further excess in fields that lack demand in the labor market.

However, this decision seems to only be targeting the scholarships provided by civil institutions to parents whose cannot meet the expenses of their children's higher education, including the Haj Hasan Al-Aali scholarships as well as scholarships offered by social charity groups.

One of the social activists said that the decision came after calls made by people and sources to trigger the Ministry of Education against these groups, and some local writers and newspapers deliberately distorted the message behind the ads that offer financial aid to students, and turned the official authorities against the institutions that provide these services.

Authorities Target More Graduates

The ministry continued to target educational facilitation one after the other until it reached those who were forced to study abroad at their own expense. Due to the limited income of many Bahrainis, most of the students traveled to low-cost countries such as India, China and countries in Eastern Europe, which were specifically targeted by the Ministry of Education one by one.

In 2013, the ministry suspended the evaluation and equivalency of scientific degrees issued by the University of Pune, India, in addition to a number of Chinese medical universities in 2015.

Here in Bahrain, the amount of education you are allowed to receive is determined by the sect you belong to, so if you belong to the Shiite sect, the doors of the National University will be closed in your face, you will also be deprived of the opportunity to receive a deserved scholarship, and you will face all forms of decisions that prevent you from pursuing higher education, whether at the expense of charitable groups or even at your own expense. You will be left with only one choice that will cost you dearly which is enrolling in commercial private universities.

However, if you are on the other side (not Shiite), you do not need an academic degree in order to be employed in state agencies. Instead, the authorities themselves will employ you and grant you scholarships to pursue your higher education. After graduating from high school, the children of those deemed pro-regime are immediately employed in an elite government body chosen for them, and then sent to study abroad.

After this policy, students found themselves standing before only one options, i.e. to pay. Those who were able to escape to universities abroad, did so, and others had no choice but to resort to expensive commercial private universities that exploited students in need and found education to be a profitable business. As for the diploma that Khalid Al-Rowaihi's announced was only an option for those who had lost other means, and accepted the fact that they can only achieve a lesser education, bidding farewell to all their ambitions and hopes.

This is part of the plan to destroy public education and kill the dreams of Shiite students, carried out by a ministry, whose most important annual event is a festival during which the King dances, a festival that guaranteed keeping Majid Al-Nuaimi for more than 12 years at the helm of one of the largest ministries of state and the major one responsible for building the future of children. Education and the future have been lost, while Al-Nuaimi and his festival continue to be held and the King continues to dance.

Arabic Version


التعليقات المنشورة لا تعبر بالضرورة عن رأي الموقع

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